Chinese Ancestry: Research Methods and Sources

Rescheduled for Fall 2021

Wednesdays, September 8–November 17, 2020
6:00–9:15 pm Mountain Time

NOTE: Schedule subject to slight modification; registration will open in June 2021.

Kelly Summers, MS, AG

Kelly Summers, MS, AGLearn about the records, tools and resources needed to discover Chinese ancestry. Identify records that may contain the original Chinese family name character and the location in China where the Chinese ancestral family originated. Locate and examine Chinese Clan Genealogies (Jiapu) and practice extracting important genealogical information. Gather and organize resources to use when helping others with Chinese genealogical research.


Course Objectives:

  • Identify records that may contain genealogical information of a Chinese ancestor
  • Conduct an Oral History Interview to obtain historical and genealogical information
  • Locate and use appropriate collections to identify the correct Chinese surname character and ancestral village location
  • Understand the history and organization of the Chinese genealogy (Jiapu)
  • Recognize and extract key genealogical information found in the Chinese genealogy
  • Document and Organize genealogical information using technology
  • Understand the considerations for planning a trip to the Chinese ancestral village

Level of Instruction

Beginner to Intermediate

Language Requirements

This course is geared toward the individual with Chinese ancestry or the librarian that assists those with Chinese ancestry. Chinese language ability is not needed.

Technical Requirements

This course will meet online using Zoom Meetings. Sessions will be recorded for personal review and available for up to 30 days following the end of the course. Students are responsible to provide their own equipment and adequate bandwidth to participate actively in the course. Webcams and noise-cancelling headphones are strongly advised. Online tools and apps required to attend are available at no cost.

Facebook Group

There will be a closed Facebook Group dedicated to this course. Students may use it for discussion. The coordinator and some other faculty will check and respond to the group posts occasionally throughout the week.

Recommended Materials

The following materials are recommended to be purchased for the class:

  • Chinese Calligraphy Set Rewritable Water Writing Cloth Fabric Scroll with Brush Rack and Water Dish Quick Drying Fabric Cloth Paper for Beginners Practice Set (4 Items available on Amazon)
  • Optional for repeat or more advanced students: "Classical Chinese for Everyone: A Guide for Absolute Beginners" (English and Chinese Edition) Paperback – October 2, 2019 by Bryan W. Van Norden (available on Amazon)
  • Optional: Students may bring their own Jiapu or family genealogy to work on during the course. They should notify the course coordinator at the start of the course.


Weekly homework assignments will be given to facilitate learning. Some homework will require working in a group outside of class hours and some will be discussed in the closed Facebook Group.

Completion Requirements

Students will receive a certificate of completion if they have attended all class sessions and completed all homework assignments. If unable to attend a class due to an unexpected reason, students are responsible for watching the recorded session and learning the missed content. Registration to watch a recording will be considered adequate for "attendance tracking" purposes.

Other Instructors

  • Stefani Evans, CG
  • Anthony King
  • Eric Leach
  • Marisa Louie Lee
  • Mel Thatcher, PhD

Teaching Assistants

  • Lena Stout
  • Lina Wakefield


  • Regular Price: $495.00
  • UGA Member Price: $475.00
  • Repeat Student Price: $295.00
    (For those who attended this course in January 2020—please register and reach out to the registrar to make the adjustment before paying)

Ready to Register? Click here!


Wednesdays, September 9–November 18, 2020

  • 6:00–9:15pm Mountain Time
  • Two 75-minute lecture/work periods, with a 15-minute break

Course Schedule

Times Class Title Instructor
September 8th
6:00–6:15 pm Welcome & Orientation SLIG
6:15–7:30 pm Class Overview, Introductions of Faculty and Students Summers
7:45–9:00 pm Introduction to Chinese Family History: Chinese Genealogy Beginning Basics Summers
9:00–9:15 pm Homework Assignment Summers
September 15th
6:00–6:15 pm Homework Review Summers
6:15–7:30 pm Sources for Searching for Your Chinese Ancestors and the Impact of Chinese Names King
7:45–9:00 pm Preserve the Living Memories Through Oral History Evans
9:00–9:15 pm Homework Assignment Summers
September 22nd
6:00–6:15 pm Homework Review Summers
6:15–7:30 pm Immigration and Exclusion in the United States Lee
7:45–9:00 pm Records Relating to the Chinese American Experience and Other Records Relating to the Chinese Diaspora Lee
9:00–9:15 pm Homework Assignment Summers
September 29th
6:00–6:15 pm Homework Review Summers
6:15–7:30 pm History of the Chinese Genealogy Thatcher
7:45–9:00 pm Organize Your Chinese Genealogy Information Summers
9:00–9:15 pm Homework Assignment: History of the Chinese Local Gazetteer Thatcher
October 6th
6:00–6:15 pm Homework Review Summers
6:15–7:30 pm Locating Chinese Genealogies Online Summers
7:45–9:00 pm More Methods of Locating a Jiapu (Clan Genealogy) King
9:00–9:15 pm Homework Assignment Summers
October 13th
6:00–6:15 pm Homework Review Summers
6:15–7:30 pm Organization and Content of the Chinese Jiapu (Clan Genealogy) Leach
7:45–9:00 pm Extracting Key Information from the Jiapu (Clan Genealogy) Leach
9:00–9:15 pm Homework Assignment Summers
October 20th
6:00–6:15 pm Homework Review Summers
6:15–7:30 pm Practice Reading the Jiapu (Clan Genealogy) and Extracting Key Genealogical Information Summers
7:45–9:00 pm Workshop Using the Jiapu (Clan Genealogy) Summers
9:00–9:15 pm Homework Assignment Summers
October 27th
6:00–6:15 pm Homework Review Summers
6:15–7:30 pm Creating a Chinese Resource Guide for Teaching and Researching Summers
7:45–9:00 pm Death, Culture & History Summers
9:00–9:15 pm Homework Assignment Summers
November 3rd
6:00–6:15 pm Homework Review Summers
6:15–7:30 pm Chinese Genealogy Research Progress and Plan for Future Research Summers
7:45–9:00 pm Personal Consultations Summers
9:00–9:15 pm Homework Assignment Summers
November 10th
6:00–6:15 pm Homework Review Summers
6:15–7:30 pm Planning a Trip to China to Visit the Ancestral Villages King
7:45–9:00 pm Visiting Ancestral Villages Summers
9:00–9:15 pm Homework Assignment Summers
November 17th
6:00–6:15 pm Homework Review Summers
6:15–8:30 pm Student Presentations  
8:30–9:00 pm Wrap-up Summers


Stefani Evans, CG

Stefani Evans, CGStefani Evans, CG, of Las Vegas, Nevada, was Board certified in 2005 and elected to the Board for Certification of Genealogists’ (BCG) board of trustees in 2011. She served on the Board’s executive committee as member at large and vice president 2012—18 and was Nominating Committee chair in 2018. From 2009–16 she was a trustee for the BCG Education Fund. During her 2010–14 term as a National Genealogical Society (NGS) director, she chaired the NGS 2013 Family History Conference. A PhD candidate in the History of the North American West, she was project manager for the Building Las Vegas oral history project at the Oral History Research Center at University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) Libraries 2016—19 and is the Nevada delegate on the board of the Southwest Oral History Association. She has taught in the SLIG Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum and You Be the Judge courses and the You Be the Judge course at the Genealogical Research Institute at Pittsburgh (GRIP). She also mentored the ProGen2 Study Group and looks forward to SLIG Virtual 2020, where she will teach oral history in the Chinese Family History course.

Anthony King

Anthony KingAnthony King was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He descends from Chinese immigrants who came to California, Oregon, and Hawaii in the late 1800s. Having retired from a 30-year career with the federal government, he has resided overseas for more than a dozen years in Malaysia, Germany, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, and China (5 years). His focus since retirement has been on Chinese genealogy. He has conducted research in such places as California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Canada, Hong Kong, and southern China. Over recent years, he has taken four trips to southern China (including stays totaling six months of the last two years) to conduct research regarding his ancestral villages. He now serves as a volunteer at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, assisting those who are searching for their Chinese roots, and also serves with the FamilySearch China team, helping to improve the customer experience for Chinese patrons. He has lectured on Chinese genealogy in cities throughout the U.S. and Asia.

Eric Leach

Eric LeachEric Leach serves as an Asian Experience Manager (Chinese Initiatives Product Manager) at FamilySearch, where he is responsible for developing online features in support of Chinese users. Eric retired from the FBI in 2016 after 25 years of service. He graduated with a BA in Chinese from Brigham Young University in 1989 and an MA in History from California State University, Hayward in 1997. For his master’s degree, his major field of study was modern Chinese history with a minor in western U.S. history, especially the Anti-Chinese Movement in California during the late 1870s and early 1880s.

Marisa Louie Lee

Marisa Louie LeeMarisa Louie Lee is an avid researcher and genealogist passionate about connecting families with records that matter to them. A former archivist at the National Archives at San Francisco, Marisa is co-author of the article "The A-Files: Finding Your Immigrant Ancestors," published in the Spring 2013 issue of Prologue magazine. She served as a research assistant for the book Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America (2010) and as a researcher for the documentary film The Chinese Exclusion Act (premiering on American Experience on PBS in May 2018.) Marisa is a proud alumna of the San Francisco-based Roots program (, which brought her to her grandfather's ancestral village in China in 2004, and continues to volunteer her research skills to assist program participants.

Kelly Summers, MS, AG

Kelly Summers, MS, AGKelly Summers, AG, received her Associate’s degree in Professional Genealogy and her Bachelor’s degree in Family and Community History both from Brigham Young University. Kelly received her Master’s degree in Instructional Design and Educational Technology from the University of Utah. She currently works as a part-time faculty member at Brigham Young University teaching Family History. She also teaches online Genealogy courses at Salt Lake Community College. Kelly currently serves as the President for the Utah Genealogical Association (UGA). Kelly has been involved in genealogical research and teaching for more than twenty-five years. Kelly has four premier genealogical credentials through the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogist (ICAPGen) demonstrating genealogical research expertise is in U.S. Midwestern & U.S. Pacific, Mexico and Spain. Kelly is also an experienced researcher in US, Latin America and Southwestern European areas and China. Kelly's research interests lie in kinship research in primary source records and rural community reconstruction.

Mel Thatcher, PhD

Mel Thatcher, PhDMel Thatcher, PhD, trained in the history of pre-imperial China and spent his professional life (nearly 34 years) locating and acquiring oral and written genealogical sources in the countries of Asia, Pacific, and Sub-Saharan Africa for the Family History Library system. During that time, he participated in the compilation of two major catalogs of Chinese genealogies. In retirement he has been teaching courses at the University of Utah in the history and civilization of premodern China to 1368 and the historical development and research uses of Chinese genealogies and local gazetteers. He has also presented at a number of Chinese American genealogy workshops.

Teaching Assistants

Lena Stout

Lena StoutLena Stout has worked for Family History Department for over 11 years. Her expertise is in Chinese genealogy research. She has worked as a cataloger, in data analysis and now she works as a research Specialist/consultant at Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Lena is a native Chinese and has always loved to genealogy work. She has participated in several genealogy conferences and taught Chinese Family History classes at the Family History Library. Lena and her Chinese team are working on developing Chinese online classes and making Chinese data more accessible to make Chinese research on FamilySearch better.

Lina Wakefield

Lina WakefieldLina Wakefield grew up in Malaysia where she learned to speak, read, and write in five languages. She is fluent in Chinese, Cantonese, Malay, English and Hokkien. She is currently working as a research specialist on the Asia Team at the Family History Library. She was a presenter at Rootstech last year. In her spare time, she loves the outdoor, boxing, and reading.